Web Features

Locked Flash Flippin' Preview Instead?

I’ve noticed a couple of the Blurb competitors (Geez! Can you believe how many companies are getting into the POD game?) anyway… I’ve noticed that a couple of Blurb competitors show their book preview as a Flash-based flip book to look through the entire book instead of just the first 15 pages as a PDF as Blurb now does.

Any chance Blurb will change to this kind of preview instead? I think it’s MUCH better and gives the buyer much more confidence before buying if they can at least see beyond the first 15 pages.

I see that Blurb is already using a flip-book style like I’ve described on their “Book Ideas” page. Can publishers get that kind of preview too?

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 3, 2008 8:00am PDT
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skiphunt
 

Perhaps that you submit a suggestion or feedback, and perhaps that someone from Blurb will respond to your submission.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 3, 2008 12:23pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

On other hand, your suggestion sounds nice.

But there is one catch is that if Blurb decides to use Flash flipping page, it has to be implemented manually by opening and using Flash application and install each page/image into Flash app and then export the native Flash file into SWF file, and its files it is being referenced to. In that case of Flash flipping page you were talking about requires XML page and individual image files to be installed into SWF file.

So, I would think it is burden and little complicated on side of Blurb to do so with EACH book previews and more disk spaces on side of Blurb server(s).

So I don’t know if that works well for Bookstore’s viewing preview books.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 3, 2008 12:26pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Doesn’t have to be done manually. This artist put together a book at a competitor and the resulting preview is a flash flip book of the entire thing.

Link

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 4, 2008 6:39pm PDT
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skiphunt
 

skiphunt,

well, if you look at browser’s activity box or in html source inside that site you mentioned, if I understand that correctly, the way I look at this – by estimate of 108 items of source code – many referenced links of source files and all, including XML files.

That is precisely what I am trying to tell you. If you look at this way with all bookstores’ preview books all over at Blurb, if you combine all of these book preview if go this venue with Flash flipping, this requires seperate flash files FOR each preview books.

I don’t know if you are a Flash user or that you can customize your own Flash flipping page, it can be done. But I don’t know if that really works well – if this venue for all Blurb bookstore preview books all together. It is possible, but it has to be constructed manually, not automatically way of doing this in Flash.

All Flash documents (SWF) are created out of Flash application by using “export”. It is a bit complicated to go into this further.

I think it is doable if you do this for your own website. I don’t know if that will works well “for ALL” Blurb book previews in Bookstore at Blurb. I just don’t know.

On other hand, there is probably a little software inside Blurb Booksmart application that created a PDF file for preview book, which can be done. But I don’t know IF that is possible for Flash – SWF page flipping feature straight out of BookSmart. I can’t see how that works.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 4, 2008 10:11pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Brian,

 there are a number of page flipping applications you can purdhase  that fully automate the process for you, you just pass them the name of your PDF file and they generate all the flash files, components, xML, etc, etc..  The fully automated ones are not cheap though, beyond the means of normal home users like myself.

There are also a number of we sites that offer a service to create page flip ‘books’ for you automatically from your PDF which you upload, most of those charge around $5 per page, again beyond a normal home user – I think these are targetted at marketting companies and professionals.

The only "cheap" way to do it that I found when I researched it was as you suggest, take a course in XML coding and Flash programming.

It was a shame as I thought this would be a good way of marketing my book beyond the Blurb Book Store. If you thought you might sell hundreds or thousands of copies the investment would perhaps be worth it.

This site (which I thought was the best page turning style of those I looked at)  offers you a free trial, the resultant ‘book’ is then available on their server for you to try (and show other people) for 7 days, after which time they delete it if you don’t pay the full charge.

http://vcab.com/default.aspx

Have a play it’s fun!

..........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Apr 5, 2008 12:07am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Hi Tony,

Yes, what you said is also true. Thanks for sharing your thought and insight about this and that.

The URL reference you mentioned, it is done with Flex technology. Flex is relatively new, but very powerful web authoring application that includes some Flash components and source codes and all. I haven’t getting both of my hands dirty under the hood of Flex. I am thinking about taking a good look at Flex. The catch is with Flex, you need to have some deep understanding on how web concept works, “backend” server technologies and many other parameters.

Anyways, the link you provided, is pretty nice stuff. I like the other one called Flash flipping page. I can’t seem to find that URL on my MacPro. But I know that I have made a list of URLs on my laptop computer.

Uhm, at the meantime, I have been doing some experiments my own Flash docs in Adobe Flash CS3 (Professional edition). Flash app is quite powerful and pretty neat. Anyway, better put that aside for now, since I am afraid this will just to complicate or confuse people. So best stop this for now. ;)

On the final note, when you say “Have a play, it’s fun.” With that in mind, true. Fun!
Cheers, Brian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 7, 2008 3:37pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Tony,

One other thing, this thought I just had in deep back of my mind somewhere in my head, you know, you probably have seen lots of flash-based websites all over for some years now. I can tell you that “most of the time”, I am NOT overly or deeply impressed with over-designed, over-do Flash-based sites. It is more of “show off” than presenting the “presentation” with “the right approach” on the Internet. The Internet means presenting the means of free flow of information. Information is the key, you know.

Well, in some cases, there are quite few sites with the right approach to include some “simple” Flash presentation or slideshow of something in specific reason. It is suppose to be “K.I.S.S.” as in “keep in simple, stupid.” as quoted as saying by former President Clinton and former veep Al Gore at a time. That analogy of “K.I.S.S.” concept should be included in every aspect of service and good. That itself includes Flash. The one we see Blurb use Flash flipping page feature is truly simple and very brilliant. It is well done and well presented to show books for general public at blurb dot com website. I think it is done quite beautifully and well executed for that matter.

On a final note, it is true that I am not overly crazy about Flash-based website. With an exception, when it comes to keeping “K.I.S.S.” concept, then it is cool.

Many times, these Flash designers forgot that majority of Internet didn’t realize that many people still use old computer with old modem. So, when over-do, bloated Flash-based website is taking forever to be loaded, probably, on very old browser – it takes forever, if you will.

At this rate, as my thumb of rule, any web page is to be loaded less than 2 to 3 seconds using very, very fast broadband modem service. Then it is acceptable to me, because I know it will takes a couple of more seconds longer on 56k dail-up modems or DSL modems. It also depends on time of the day, where and all. With that in mind, we don’t have any control over Internet speed of transmission from web server to clients’ web browser across the globe.

Well, there are lot of factors involved for that matter, but… that is something some of you to think about. It is totally up to you, you decide what’s best for you and your project.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 7, 2008 3:49pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Tony,

I found Flash page flip “engine” component, the URL link is:

http://www.page-flip.com

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 7, 2008 4:04pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Not a bad price Brian, but I suppose I’d better get back to finishing my books; I’m all to easily diverted by other interesting things to do :-(

I agree with your views on Flash, especially when they are in advertisements and take too long to load.

..........TOny

Posted by
tfrankland
Apr 8, 2008 12:35am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Well, the idea was.. that when I’m shopping in a book store, if I can’t flip through a sample copy first, I simply won’t buy. Unless I know the artist and am a fan of their work. Those art books that are shrink-wrapped with no sample copy to browse through, don’t even get a second look from me.

If there were a low-res flash or other technology that allowed you to browse the entire contents before you buy, I think sales would improve. On the other hand, there’s the idea that maybe the first 15 pages in a pdf that blurb delivers… serves to entice the buyer into wanting to buy the book to see the rest?

Not sure, but I can say from my own personal buying habits…. I need to be able to browse an art book before I decide if I’m going to own it or not.

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 8, 2008 6:46am PDT
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skiphunt
 

Sorry skiphunt, Brian and I digressed from your question and started having a personal conversation on the topic.

I have seen no announcements from Blurb that they are considering changing the 15 page limit, or adopting the page-flip style of preview. If you want a definitive answer I suggest you get in touch with Blurb staff directly.

Click the Help tab, then down the right hand side of the resultant page, under e-mail support, you will see a General Quesions option.

.........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Apr 8, 2008 9:56am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Hi all –

Interesting conversation. There’s nothing we can officially announce yet, but we are currently looking into some newer, better ways to promote and show off your books, that we think you’ll enjoy. We should have more news in a month or so. 

Thanks,
Jack

Posted by
JackLyon
Apr 8, 2008 2:38pm PDT
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JackLyon
 

@ Jack.. coolness. Can you at least say if these new ways will be retroactive for books already online? I’m getting ready to do a new one.. but if already having it online will make it a “legacy” book and not get the new promo treatment you’re hinting at.. then maybe I should hold off another month before publishing?

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 9, 2008 6:34am PDT
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skiphunt
 

Skip,

Even if the new  promo is only for new books, you could easily just re-publish when the time comes. You could also correct the typos you missed the first time.

Posted by
dagree
Apr 9, 2008 8:33am PDT
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dagree
 

I would prefer to have to not buy another book just to take advantage of new promo upgrades. I think I’ll just hold off and wait unless the staff says the upgrades will be backward compatible.

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 9, 2008 12:37pm PDT
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skiphunt
 

Hey skiphunt –

Really good question. The solutions we’re looking at will absolutely be retroactive — meaning any book you’ve published in the past will be able to use the new tools. That would be really uncool if it wasn’t ;)

Jack 

Posted by
JackLyon
Apr 9, 2008 5:27pm PDT
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JackLyon
 

Hey Jack,

That is very encouraging cue.

Fun!
Brian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 9, 2008 5:42pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Jack,

Sweet. But, now I don’t have an excuse for putting off the work publishing my next book. ;-)

Posted by
skiphunt
Apr 11, 2008 9:55am PDT
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skiphunt
 

I’ve noticed that the book previews for "Staff Pics" is now flash based, resulting in a better representation of images.  I suspect that this is part of the new upcoming promo tools.  Is this accessible to the rest of us yet?  If not could you give us an estimate of when it might be?

Thanks,
  Bret

Posted by
bret
Jun 5, 2008 11:27am PDT
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bret
 

Hey Bret –

We were wondering when someone was going to notice. ;)

This is actually a prototype that we’ve been working on. We turned it on specifically for Staff Books to test storage and server loads. While we’re getting close, this is not the final version. We’re still tweaking image quality, layout and a few other things.  

To see it in action, click on any Book Preview for any Staff Pick book. Or, check out this example

What do you think?

 

Posted by
JackLyon
Jun 10, 2008 4:56pm PDT
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JackLyon
 

Hi Jack,

Like Bret has said the other day on June 5th, I also notice the same on Staff Pick week. I like what I saw. Perhaps that you want to finetune a bit as page flipping style inside the book. The cover book looks perfect, but the inside the book as it seems like hardcover effect. You might want to make inside the book’s pages looks almost as if you are turning pages-effect-like.

Thanks much for all you do, Jack.

Cheers,
Brian
[A passionate Blurbarian]

Posted by
brianbonitz
Jun 10, 2008 7:15pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Hello Jack,

I just noticed that there is other minor adjustment with Flash flipping preview including “full-sized” screen preview. I find that very neat feature. I like it better immensely.

Keep up the good work.

Cheers,
Brian
[A passionate Blurbarian]

Posted by
brianbonitz
Jun 12, 2008 3:35pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

If/when introduced it will be a great step forward.

I’d like to add my vote to a full-book preview too, as I think that it’s not realistic to sell “art” books based on a few page sample.

Thanks, it’s all great stuff!

P

Posted by
bitingmidge
Jun 15, 2008 4:44am PDT
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bitingmidge
 

my book wasn’t a staff pick but just noticed I got the flash review – cool!  If and when the FULL flash preview will become a standard functionality I’ll do more books. The first 15 pages of mine are discouraging buyers rather than making them want to buy the book – colours and movement are only added after the first 20 pages… so full book review PLEEEEASZEEE

Posted by
naftalina007
Jul 11, 2008 10:02am PDT
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naftalina007
 

Actually, the flash-based preview is now available for all books (not just Staff Picks). Glad you like it. As far as full-book preview, that’s currently something we’re looking into.

Thanks,
Jack

Posted by
JackLyon
Jul 11, 2008 11:09am PDT
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JackLyon
 

Hi Guys;

Has anybody else experienced significant delays in loading the previews since the Flash-Flip function was added ?

I have a pretty damned fast m/c and connection, but any book preview now takes an absolute age to load, so trying to preview new books (to steal presentation ideas!!!!) has become a real pain!

Any chance of adding a user-choice for flash-flip or pdf?

Cheers;

Lee

Posted by
lkb-28
Jul 15, 2008 1:39am PDT
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lkb-28
 

Yeah, the flash previews take a very long time to load even on a fast machine with a fast broadband connection. I miss the old PDF previews and really wish they were still around.  As a result, I don’t bother browsing around the bookstore anymore.

Posted by
jrod5000
Jul 15, 2008 6:38am PDT
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jrod5000
 

I find it slow as well. O.K. for going to look at a single book, but I liked browsing the recently published ones and the staff picks looking for design ideas (to steal). I do that rarely now.

 But I was one of the people who asked for it though, so I feel it’s a bit of a cheek to complain.

.........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Jul 15, 2008 7:09am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Well, Tony, I figure you had no way of knowing that the new Flash previews would be so slow… :)  I am finding it extremely slow as well.  I often enjoy taking a few-minute break at work (shhhh) and checking out the newly published books as well, which is made much more difficult with the slowness of the Flash previews. 

I wonder if Blurb staff could comment on whether or not they could possibly institute a method for people to choose, for each book, whether they would like to preview in PDF or with the Flash function?  I would generally always opt for PDF.

Teri

Posted by
hooloovoos
Jul 16, 2008 6:51am PDT
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hooloovoos
 

Hi all -

Few comments. 

1) Unfortunately, supporting both PDF and Flash-based previews for all books (public and private) would require a great deal of server and storage overhead.

2) With this new version of the Book Preview, we took the opportunity to upgrade overall image quality. Especially with books with very detailed elements—like bitmapped text—it makes a big difference. 

3) Though the size of the Book Preview file depends a great deal on each book’s contents, we definitely hear you on the longer load times. We’re currently working on a new solution that will greatly reduce the time it takes to start viewing a Book Preview. We should have this available in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by
JackLyon
Jul 29, 2008 4:34pm PDT
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JackLyon